49ers 17, Colts 23: The good and not so good

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) talks with San Francisco 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman (25) following an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. The Colts defeated the 49ers 23-17. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Here’s who and what stood out during the 49ers 23-17 preseason loss to the Indianapolis Colts.


1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Continues to show what he showed last season. Led the offense into the red zone three times, and would have thrown at least one touchdown pass had his teammates not dropped four of his passes. Garoppolo will keep the 49ers in lots of games this season.

2. RB Alfred Morris. Ran hard. Found holes. Carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards (4.9 per carry). Probably made the team with this superb performance. Could even earn a significant role during the regular season if Jerick McKinnon or Matt Breida struggle running the ball. Morris is a perfect fit for this offense, and different than the rest of the featherweight running backs on the roster. He’s a heavyweight.

3. LB Fred Warner. The best linebacker on the field for the first-string defense (Reuben foster player with the backups). Recorded a team-high five tackles and one tackle for loss. Warner is better than veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith and should remain the starting middle linebacker once Reuben Foster returns from his suspension Week 3.

4. CB Richard Sherman. Broke up a short pass over the middle and gave up no catches. The Colts treated Sherman with respect and didn’t test him more than once.

5. DT Solomon Thomas. Hit quarterback Andrew Luck and bounced off. Defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu brought Luck down to finish the play with a sack.

6. RG Mike Person. Started at right guard and outplayed Joshua Garnett, who played every other series with the starters. Person probably will be the starting guard Week 1. If he struggles, Garnett probably will get his chance to start at right guard.

7. WR Richie James. Led the 49ers with 65 receiving yards. Caught a pass over the middle and ran through the defense for a 42-yard gain. Absolutely should make the team. James is the fourth-best receiver on the roster.


1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Telegraphed his final two passes in the red zone. The first pass got broken up. The second pass should have been intercepted.

2. CB Ahkello Witherspoon. Gave up a 19-yard catch to Chester Rogers on third-and-9. The Colts seemed to target Witherspoon whenever they needed to make a play.

3. Pass rush. Came close to recording lots of sacks, but recorded only one.

4. Injuries. Reuben Foster suffered a concussion and Jimmie Ward pulled his quadriceps.

5. Penalties. Committed 13. Officials enforced 10. Here’s the breakdown: Marquise Goodwin – illegal formation (first play from scrimmage for the offense). Pierre Garcon – holding (red zone). Joshua Garnett – holding. Laken Tomlinson – holding twice (one near the red zone). Ahkello Witherspoon – pass interference. DeForest Buckner – roughing the passer. Sheldon Day – roughing the passer. Mark Nzeocha – lowering the head to initiate contact. Weston Richburg – illegal blindside block. Dekoda Watson – neutral-zone infraction. Cameron Wick – false start. Jeremy McNichols – false start.

6. Drops. Raheem Mostert dropped a pass. Garrett Celek dropped two passes, including one in the red zone. Kendrick Bourne dropped one in the red zone. Cole Hikutini dropped one in the end zone. And Dante Pettis dropped one in the end zone.

7. Missed assignments. No one covered Colts tight end Darrell Daniels when he caught a 16-yard pass on fourth-and-1. And no one covered tight end Eric Ebron when he made a 15-yard touchdown catch on first-and-10.

This article has 107 Comments

  1. Not so good
    !. ..“…QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Telegraphed his final two passes in the red zone..The first pass got broken up..”

    I’m sure the Colts DB …(on that play) … pushed Garcon in the back right
    before the ball got there … a TD fer sure !

    6. “….
    Drops. Raheem Mostert dropped a pass. Garrett Celek dropped two passes,..”

    this example shows two things :Motsert is a much better RB than a receiver …
    and Celek misses Kittle as well …

  2. Love how Grant decided after watching the first half of this game to change his prediction to 7-9…seriously? They dominated the Colts off the ball, Kyle has yet to open the play book, both back up tight ends dropped first down/touchdown passes (Kittle makes both of those catches), everyone knows the refs are penalty happy in the preseason, two weeks ago Jullian Taylor was the best rookie, now Fred Warner is, two weeks ago Joe Williams had the best run every day in camp, now he won’t even make the team (they pulled a guy off the couch who looks better)….and with all that being said I’ll be back listening to his periscope next week lol…love you Grant

    1. Love how Grant decided after watching the first half of this game to change his prediction to 7-9…seriously?

      Looking at the brutal 2018 schedule, it’s hard to fathom where Grant is coming up with 7 wins. Maybe if nobody gets injured all year, while all the opponents lose multiple important starters.

  3. Agree with the assessment that the team is over inflated and that the needs were not adequately addressed in the draft or FA. Especially your periscope point regarding the receiver (Pettis and Landry). I cannot, for the life of me, understand that move.

  4. 4 total comments after the only important pre-season game? That’s not good for blog or for business

  5. I do not understand the reason behind this regime playing for next season. With some better FA and Draft moves we could have competed year. I totally agree with Grant about them not adding a CB, pass rusher or OG. So frustrating.

  6. I see this team losing a lot of high scoring games. Their offense will keep them in the game but their pass defense will lose it for them.

  7. The 49ers need to trade Reuben Foster.

    He’ll be out of the league in 2-3 years from either suspension or injury so lets move him now while we can still recoup a decent pick or two.

    1. How about Foster and Ward for Mack?
      Niners sweeten the deal by swallowing half of Ward’s salary.

  8. Hey Grant, guess who’s going to be the first successful Air Raid QB in the NFL?

  9. I actually liked the first half on both sides of the ball. I didn’t like the play call on the second drive, 3&2 then 4&2. They should of kept running the ball, it was working. Few mistakes discolor a decent half of football. Also this fan loves the fact that the schedule is hard, I say bring it on. I have no expectations but I sure am anticipating some things. :)

  10. They are not a deep team. Do have a really good QB and a host of Receivers.. Both sides of the Line , the 1’s controlled the LOS.. Run blocking way better. Made a guy off the couch look like the real deal..

    Their real problem is bonehead mistakes and lack of precision.. This is a preseason game but what looked different today from what we saw going 0-9 in 2017 ?? Nothing.. It’s the same team.

    Unless these guys develop a cold blooded execution mindset at critical junctures (RedZone/3rd down defensive stops) their a mid pack bunch.. Good enough to beat a good team having a bad day but not good enough to beat a bad team having a good day..

  11. I see this team winning a lot of high scoring games. Their defense will keep their opponents in the game but the offense will win it for them. :)

    PS. They need to sign a veteran backup QB for insurance. Either CJ or Nick is the answer at this point.

    1. before you worry about defeating your opponent, you had better worry about not beating yourself, and, so far, KS’s Niners have not mastered that principle. should be engrained in the brains of the players from day 1 and reiterated daily by the HC and the coordinators. everybody says not to worry because it is just the little things, but it is the little things which add up and make the difference. good teams take care of the little things while everybody says they take care of the big things.

        1. In all honestly, the offense was just a fraction off of being terrific, but as we know, sometimes a fraction is all it takes.

          That said, the penalties have to stop. I realize Shanny’s offense is tricky, a lot of nuanced formation differences, but come on! Get things cleaned up. The little things.

          Big picture wise, the run game showed some serious life last night, and we know that’s going to serve Jimmy and the passing offense well. Nice positive. Additionally, pass protect has been very adequate.

          What a lucky break having Alfred Morris available this late in the offseason! Huge boost for offense. Goodbye Joe Williams ( Grant’s boy) and Jeremy McNichols!

          Pass defense needs to tighten up!

          Team needs to finish with sacks, QB hits!

          Arrows up!

      1. Like penalties in preseason. Check the box scores for all preseason 3 games. Looks like lots of penalties being received by some pretty good teams–a few did well in that regard, many horrible.

        I get your point. Preseason is the last/best time to really get after issues–the consequences are lost jobs/lost opportunities.

        Believe me, the 9ers are feeling Grant’s heat and they will improve their focus on the little things.

  12. Niners played unfocused and undisciplined. The lack of preparations were evident. Looks like KS is stretched too thin, and cannot handle all the myriad tasks a HC must do. KS should recognize the problem, and make adjustments. He should delegate authority.
    KS should hire an OC, or promote Bobby Turner or Scangarello to OC, and their main job should be to make the offense more focused and disciplined. Let KS keep calling the plays, but an offense will function better with a coordinator that helps organize and implement schemes.
    With the help of an OC, KS can direct some of his time to help the defense become more focused and disciplined.
    I really do not see how having an OC would hurt the team. Having an OC would help the team. Jed should give KS as much help as he needs.

    1. The QB coach and the RB coach already have those responsibilities. They just don’t have the title of OC. Saleh is an excellent DC and the rest of their assistants are good at what they do. KS does delegate, otherwise the 49ers would be a disaster if the scenario is like you say it is.

  13. I thought Garnett pretty solid and so did Tim Ryan. I saw him pushing guys back 5 yrds and pancaking them at the end. Our Oline did a great job in both the run and pass protection. Morris had room to run all night. Garoppolo had all day to throw.

    You can definitely see why we need Kittle back soon. Ward got hurt without playing a snap on defense! Seriously!

    1. I used to really enjoy Tim Ryan wen he was on Sirius NFL channel but since switching to covering his home team he’s become a bit of a fan boy.

      1. I don’t suppose you had the Colts announcers like I did for the NFL Game Pass stream? I doubt Ryan was referring to the team as “we” like they were doing.

        1. Actually, Rib, he did do that at least once in reference to the team. But heck, it’s Pre#3 and nobody’s working towards a Pulitzer or Emmy.
          : -)

          1. I guess there’s a reason why most local announcers aren’t tagged for the network gigs

            1. Rib,

              You’re right, the Colts announcers were absolutely horrible, with the color “analyst” being the worse of the two, by far. It almost made the game unwatchable. Homerism to the nth degree, with very little content. Not even biased content, just incoherent babbling.

        2. Yeah, I was streaming the game and I agree. Those guys were total homers. Thank God that the regular season games are announced by network announcers. (For the most part!)

  14. I am hopeful. It is a good thing that these unforced errors happened. Now the team has time to address the problem.
    Grant is right. JG is good, but he is only as good as the players around him. JG cannot throw the ball, and catch it, too. Only Mariota does that.
    Morris is new, but he played like he attended from the OTAs. What a pleasant surprise.
    Grant may chastise JL, but JL is right. There will be some painful cuts, and other teams will poach some of the 53 cut Niner players, especially the WRs and DBs. Other teams, through attrition, will have huge needs, and several Niner players will be adequate replacements.

  15. https://www.pressdemocrat.com/sports/8669227-181/grant-cohn-what-to-watch

    “Here’s who and what to watch for during Saturday’s dress rehearsal.”

    “1. Richard Sherman.” Played well and didn’t have any injuries.

    “2. Pass rush.” Got some pressure early with the starters.

    “3. Run defense.” Good other than letting Luck get loose.

    “4. Right guard.” Person is in Grant’s good column.

    “5. Run blocking.” Was good.

    “Let’s see them run and block…” Check.

    “…and sack and cover effectively Saturday.” They got pressure early. Luck, while accurate, only threw for 90 YDs. Bend but don’t break. They forced 3 straight punts. The Colts only had 7 points at haltime.

  16. I wish to express my sincerest condolences to the family of John McCain, a true American hero.
    Some may cite his steadfast resolve to not accept release until all other POWs were released, as one of his finest acts, but his visit to Vietnam and the return to civil relations due his amazing capacity to forgive, made him a peace maker.
    The world is a better place, because of John McCain. His legacy will live forever. May he rest in peace.

    1. The world is a worse place because of that traitor and warmonger’s influence on American and global geopolitics. It’s better that he is dead. Voting for him for president was one of my worst voting decisions. He was a terrible person. Good riddance.

      1. Voting for Palin for vice-president was my very worst voting decision .

        Fixed that for you AF

        1. Agree. I traveled to India recently and due to unfortunate circumstances I had to have a team of doctors remove a parasitic worm.

          I named him ‘Seb’.

  17. This will be a fun week, especially with league roster reductions right around the corner, and also what that dynamic means for possible trades. And lots of finger pointing too–and not limited to the pointer finger.

    You know…in another 52 weeks we’ll be right here at each other’s throats after the third preseason game. Care to fast forward?

  18. I thought McGlinchey had a good game as well.
    He seems to get better with each game as he acclimates himself to the speed and strength of the pro’s.

    Mt. Mc will need to put on more upper body strength to make him more stout, but that will come sooner than later.

    Warner should start over M. Smith beginning in game 1, but even if he doesn’t, he will be the starter by seasons end.

    Foster’ albatross is that he is an “old school throw back” player whose game may no longer fit in today’s NFL.
    The days of Jack Tatum and Ronnie Lott type tackling no longer apply.

    1. Lynch teased himself when asked if he could have played under the new contact rules. He said he would’ve adapted, but he said it with an evil grin.

  19. I just rewatched the Thomas pressure where he was unable to finish, and it looked like his legs were impacted just before, knocking him off balance….

  20. All these issues yet the team would have gone into the half up 9-7 had it been a regular season game.

    Two more weeks to get things cleaned up.

      1. And don’t forget, Mostert won’t be in the game to drop otherwise a perfectly executed screen pass. Hikutini won’t be in there to drop a perfectly thrown seam pass.

        There were more positives than negatives yesterday from what I saw.

        1. Do you remember last years 3rd preseason game against the Vikings? Could be a similar gameplan.

      1. I don’t think Celek would have even made the first down on that one. He was a couple yards behind the line of scrimmage and off balance from the jam at the line.

        1. ? , It seemed to me like he had an escort and a pretty good head of steam going. I’d have to rewatch as I rolled my eyes away from the screen about the same time Celek rolled his eyes away from the ball.

  21. I haven’t rewatched the game yet, but on first viewing the Niners were clearly the better team on both sides of the ball while the starters were in. Defense only gave up one scoring drive aided by a PI call and did a good job against the run. There was some pressure periodically but obviously more attention needs to be put on wrapping up. Thomas and Pita both whiffed badly. Moore is not ready to play regularly at CB. Fred Warner needs to be on the field regardless of injury/suspension to the others.

    Offense looks ready to go. Didn’t finish with TD’s, but the opportunities were there if not for drops. Garoppolo has been throwing a lot of passes high. He needs to get a little more touch on some of those or he’s going to get somebody hurt. It was old RB redemption week apparently. Both AP and Alfred Morris turned back the clock for a night. Morris knows how to run in this system obviously but there wasn’t a lot of penetration in the backfield either. The Oline gave a promising showing both run blocking and in pass protection. It was the Colts obviously but you have to start somewhere.

    I still think this is a 9-10 win team. This offense is going to be top ten and if they can hold up against the run, they’ll be good enough on defense to win some close ones.

    1. There was a reason Thomas whiffed. Just before he went to take Luck down, Thomas’ legs were hit, knocking him off balance.

    2. Good analysis. Our play action game will be tough to stop if we’re able to run the ball like we did yesterday. A strong running game will also mean less hits on JG.

      The drops have already been mentioned. Shanny went for it on 4th down instead of taking the FG.

      We had pressure. Luck was able to squirt out and run, we had that problem last year. All in all, we saw an improvement in two of our biggest areas of concern, pass rush and run blocking.

      1. I can’t name any of the Redskins front 7 from last year either, but Dallas Oline and Morris ate them up.

        What’s your point? Another one of those “who are they playing?” Yawn.

      2. I can’t name any of the Texans scrubs from last week either, but the Oline play and rush effectiveness was night and day from last week to this.

  22. OL was a bright point. Person looked good in both run and pass. McG is coming along. Staley missed a pass assignment but no biggie with him. Richburg looked ok–still had an aggression penalty that needs to be stopped. Most disappointing “lineman” by far was Celek. I saw him miss on at least 2-3 occasions.

  23. With almost all the cuts coming Sept 1st, it’s going to be a Chinese fire drill around the league. Being ninth in waiver wire priority, SF may find some opportunities. A program perceived as being on the up swing may be attractive to FA’s as well. After week one, veterans signed won’t have the season guarantee, so could be a move then too. Fluid.
    Don’t sign a lease until late September.

    1. Let’s hope those interested in becoming 9ers don’t read this blog. They’d get the impression we’re in an irreversible nose dive…going to a zero and 16 season in a rotting hand basket.

      1. And that Coach and GM get all their best ideas from one particular poster and one particular poster only.

      1. When I posted that I resigned myself to the possibility that if someone was looking to take offense, they would.
        When I saw your name on the sidebar, I knew what at least one of your remarks would address race. Voila.
        Leopards not changing spots, and all that….
        But have a nice day because you offered a restrained poke, and I get it.

    2. Oh, Brotha yo speakie with racial connotations deserve the wrath of 20 noodles soaked in vermouth wrapped around thy mouth for insulting said fire drill. Hang your head low and savior all the demons that becometh to oneself. :)

      1. When I converted my Permit to a DL back in the 60s the first thing I did was get three friends on a Friday night at a stoplight to bust out of the car, race clockwise and jump back in before the green light. I thought that was…..
        No, I guess it was a Gringo Gyro……my bad.
        Anybody hurt? Everybody ok?
        (Write your Congressman if not)

          1. Yeah buddy! That’s Petaluma Blvd, Mi Pueblo! Movie was filmed here. We have an American Graffitti festival, car show, and Blvd Cruise every year.
            Mine, back in the Carberatornifforace Epoch, was actually in Lancaster, Pennsy. Gas was two bits/gl, so 3 deuces or twin quads were livable.
            Sex was dirty and air was clean (NO! Air wasn’t clean, and even Catholic girls liked sex.)
            Scotty’s had $.15 cheeseburgers. I had a ‘34 Willy’s, not exactly a chick magnet, but earned winter money snow plowing folks driveways.

            1. 4 deuces, Stromburg 97’s with progressive…Bobo’s 19cents
              Girls were into burning their bra’s and mini skirts,

  24. Niners need to get back to basics.
    They were experimenting with varying the cadences, but all the false starts and illegal formations just prove that they are trying to be unpredictable to gain an advantage, but end up tricking themselves.
    Right now, the Niners need to simplify, so every player knows exactly where to line up. They should be able to run up to the line of scrimmage, and fire off a play. From a standard formation, they should either run or pass out of it. They should know beforehand what the first down, second down and third down play is. They should have a play for second and long, second and short, third and long, third and short, drawn up before the game. That is just basic organization, but seems lacking, with the present dysfunction. Scripting may help, but there should be contingency plans for every possible scenario.
    The Niners should take baby steps before they start sprinting. They should stop the elaborate shifts, because they are only fooling themselves. They should become crisp, efficient, work together in tandem, and master the basics, before getting more intricate, like with putting a man in motion. While trying to shape the opponent, they are shaping themselves.
    Previously, all I wanted was for the offense to get a play off before the play clock ran out. Then I wanted the O linemen to stop acting like turnstiles. Throughout, I have wanted them to stop shooting themselves in the foot. These self inflicted wounds are helping the Niners defeat themselves.
    Niners need to become better focused and disciplined. That is the job of the coaches, to thoroughly prepare them. These problems are easily fixable, but the season starts soon, so they need to act quickly and make shrewd, simple adjustments.
    Maybe they do not need an OC, but they sure need something.

  25. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Maybe you do not need a Pre Frontal Lobotomy, but you sure need something.

    1. I would rather have a free bottle in front of me. ;p
      Niners could not execute their first play on offense without committing a penalty. That is gross negligence and incompetence.

      1. Lee is punting and Dawson is kicking for AZ now. Niners’ Intel is fatally compromised. Niners are doomed. Sad.

        1. Harold going to Detroit, the second week opponent, may provide useful intel, but Lee and Dawson are ancient history.
          I hope the Niners poach a player from the Rams.

  26. As high up as you can get!??? Someone over in Pats land has been talking to Seb? There’s no one higher than he.

  27. It’s evident Seb that the order of circumstances surrounding your daily routine goes something like this.
    Wake up
    Grab the half used blunt off the nightstand
    Grab the burning incense candle off the nightstand
    (Bic lighters are bad for the environment)
    Proceed to light said blunt and consume
    Head directly to laptop and regurgitate mundane, obvious observations about football and how to develop a team (I think)
    Have a cup of organic tea
    Head to the shed in the back forty and dig out the Berkeley bong
    Return to laptop and continue the “diatribe of Duh”
    Roast half a stub
    Go nighty nite!
    The cycle will continue!

  28. Not sure how many here have noticed….but the NFC West is not going to be just a two horse race between the Rams and the 9ers.

    The Cardinals defense looks legit and if Bradford can stay healthy, they have enough pieces to contend in the NFC West. The Seahawks are no pushovers either and can surprise a few people.

    Cardinals have the 6th…..Sixth!! takeaway of the game against the Cowboys. I know it is just presason, but they have had more takeaways in one game, than our defense did in the entire preseason.

    1. I have said all along that the NFC West will be tough. Cards get back David Johnson, and Fitzgerald is timeless. They made an addition through subtraction by jettisoning Gabbert. They have Stafford, although he may not last long, and they drafted Rosen, who is probably the best pro ready passer from the draft.
      Seahawks will probably poach another 53 cut Niner, and if their O line holds up, they may be in the hunt. Seahawks did lose their number one draft choice, but it is not an ACL. Seahawks did lose some defensive starters, but they employed the draft back strategy because they saw quality in the later rounds. I will never under estimate Pete Carroll.
      I am hoping for a split in the division, but 2-4 may be more realistic.

      1. Think you meant Bradford. Rosen starts by mid-October if there is an injury to Bradford, mid-November if no injury.

  29. Agree with your analysis Seb! All in the West are gonna be tough! We still haven’t even got over the Seattle hurdle yet!
    A request. Could you please break out the thesaurus and come up with another word besides “poach”? If I read that word one more time ………….come on! You can do better!

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